Hearing loss in Scottsdale is linked to many different factors. Some, like aging or genetic conditions, are unavoidable. The threat from others, such as noise exposure, can be reduced by taking a few simple precautions. One potential cause of hearing damage is easily avoidable as long as you make sure your child’s immunizations are current.
Mumps have been in the headlines recently after an outbreak in the Pacific Northwest resulted in over 800 confirmed cases. This might be surprising given the ready availability of a vaccine, but doctors have reported an increase from around 1,000 cases in 2015 to more than 6,000 in 2016-2017. With yet another epidemic occurring this past January in Washington state, public health officials are urging the public to ensure their children are vaccinated in order to help prevent the spread of a common childhood disease has largely been forgotten after the advent of a reliable immunization decades ago.
Mumps is a viral infection that belongs to the same family as measles and other respiratory ailments. Transmission occurs via infected saliva; germs are easily spread from person to person by through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms develop about two weeks after exposure and include swollen salivary glands, pain when chewing or swallowing, fever, headache and muscle aches, weakness, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Side effects are rare but can prove serious; these include inflammation of the testicles, ovaries, breasts, pancreas and brain, and fluid around the brain and spinal cord. Hearing loss is another complication of mumps.
The Link Between Mumps and Hearing Loss
Scientists don’t understand the exact reason why mumps can cause hearing loss, but they have theories. The most popular concerns the cochlea of the inner ear; it is believed the virus can damage or destroy the tiny hair cells that are responsible for transmitting electrical signals to the brain that are interpreted as sound. This can cut off blood flow to the inner ear and lead to irreversible hearing loss.
Patients whose hearing is affected by mumps are most often diagnosed with sensorineural, or inner ear, hearing loss. Also known as nerve deafness, this is the most common type of hearing impairment and is permanent. The majority of cases involve single-sided hearing loss confined to one ear.
Fortunately, hearing loss resulting from mumps is rare. Between 1-4 percent of people infected with mumps in Scottsdale will develop hearing loss as a result of their infection – but why take that risk when there is a vaccine that is extremely successful in preventing it? All children should be immunized against mumps (and associated conditions like measles and rubella) with the MMR vaccine, which protects against all three. Your child’s pediatrician will let you know when the vaccination is needed, but it is typically given initially between 12-15 months of age, with a booster shot when your child is 4-6 and another in the teen years. Effectiveness of the vaccine is about 80 percent, with the best protection going to those who have received all three shots. The majority of mumps cases occur in people who have not been immunized properly.
Your Scottsdale audiologist is happy to provide you with more information about mumps and its connection to hearing loss.